Friday, February 10, 2012

The "2-2-2" Leader

The things I have learned in the last 7 years through planting this church are too may to list in any “Top 10” or “Best Of” kind of article. I feel I’ve been in school 24-7! Don’t misunderstand me – it’s a good and needed education. And even though I am a naturally curious person who thoroughly enjoys learning and discovering, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. So this journey has been an eye-popping trek into the wonderful world of sociology and theology (otherwise known as church ministry)!

If I had to boil things down to a single lesson in these first few years, here’s what has been reaffirmed and confirmed over and over to me: Refusing to expand your leadership base through the development of other people is silent sabotage! And while I knew this, I didn’t really know it. Sure, I acknowledged it, applauded it, and even taught it. But living it has been a different ballgame. Yet, it is the living out of that simple principle that, in my opinion, makes church more than one man’s venture. A “2-2-2” lifestyle must be one of our non-negotiables! (2 Timothy 2:2 will clue you in as to what I mean by “2-2-2.”)

Frankly, it matters not if you’re a volunteer deacon or a vocational pastor – leading effectively through expansion and development is the bedrock of health and growth. But what does that look like? And to what does it compare? I’ll use two contrasting labels/thoughts regarding developing others – Command & Control Leadership vs. Expansion & Development Leadership – to highlight what I think are some good ways to live out a “2-2-2” lifestyle as a leader.

1. Control Leadership centers around behavior; Expansion Leadership revolves around process and development. When events go well, schedules run smoothly, and people show up and do exactly what we say, control leaders are happy. Unfortunately, these things can even happen with unhappy and unhealthy people! Jesus encouraged us to deal with the inside of the cup first. This is what “2-2-2” leaders do – they focus on the inside first.

2. Control Leadership is tied into tasks; Expansion Leadership connects to purpose. Expansion leaders see their purpose as relationally centered (people), not event based (tasks). In fact, this is the heart beat of the “2-2-2” leader – he or she is developing a person, not creating a list.

3. Control Leadership is consumed with details; Expansion Leadership is concerned about direction. Expansion leaders make an intentional decision not to get bogged down by details. They don’t neglect them, they just aren’t consumed with them. Keep the ship on course by focusing on the destination, not by micro-managing every mile.

Frankly, it’s in the details where lots of learning and ownership occurs. And if we rescue every up-and-coming leader from the experience of handling the details, we short-circuit the development process. I’m not suggesting we risk everything for the sake of someone else’s learning, but just that we be willing to risk some things. Knowing where that line is drawn is half the fun!

4. Control Leadership is typically reactive; Expansion Leadership is proactive. Expansion leaders set the agenda and use feedback to modify ailing aspects, unlike control leaders who usually adopt the agenda of the squeakiest wheel and enforce it.

When we are a proactive, “2-2-2” leader, the big-picture comes into focus, and we find that the smaller snapshots don’t drive us crazy. We’re pursuing people, not just trying to fix problems.

5. Control Leadership has to do with fear; Expansion Leadership rests on trust. This is the underlying issue behind it all. Become secure and unthreatened, and help others achieve this as well. Trust works wonders!

6. Control Leadership thinks “no risks, no mistakes;” Expansion Leadership thinks “no risks, no impact.” Expansion leaders understand risk reversal; that the ultimate end of a venture is greater than the initial fear or sacrifice at the beginning. Consequently, expansion leaders act as thermostats and set the temperature; control leaders merely become thermometers, reflecting the state of their environment or comfort zone.

One more thing is sure -- I don't have this 'down pat' yet! So don't assume my observations mean I've mastered this "2-2-2" deal. But as each year passes, my commitment to building this kind of culture and environment deepens. May God's grace set my life on this course more and more.